Netanyahu’s father, Benzion, dies at age 102
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Benzion Netanyahu, father of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, died early Monday morning at the age of 102.
The senior Netanyahu was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1910, and was a historian and a professor emeritus of Judaic Studies at Cornell University from 1971 to 1975. He married Tzila Segal in 1944, and remained married until her death in 2000.
Benzion was father to three sons with Segal: Yonatan Netanyahu, a Sayeret Matkal commander who was the sole Israeli casualty during the successful operation to free hundreds of hostages in Entebbe, Uganda who were taken aboard a hijacked airplane, Iddo Netanyahu, a radiologist and writer, and Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.
“Professor Netanyahu was an important scholar, both profound and original,” Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said of the late Netanyahu. “His wide research on the [Spanish] Marranos and the Inquisition period was revolutionary, and has important historical value.”
Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich sent her condolences to the prime minister, writing that “we all have only one father. And in your case, we are talking about a unique man, distinguished historian, an ideologue and an intellectual who left a deep imprint on Israeli society.
Benzion served as the executive director of the New Zionist Organization of America during the 40s, making him a prominent Revisionist Zionist activist in the United States.
He became the chief editor of the Encyclopedia Hebraica during his stay in Israel.
He was also editor of the group’s biweekly US publication, Zionnews, where he authored editorials that typically dealt with the latest Palestine-related political developments and controversies.
In one editorial that Benzion wrote, on the occasion of the springtime Passover holiday, Benzion contemplated how the suffering of the Jews could never separate them from their faith or extinguish their hopes: “Through oceans of blood, our blood, through oceans of tears, our tears, hated, persecuted, beaten, wandering and homeless, we assemble at the Pessah Seder to thank God for our liberation from Egypt, and to express once again the hope of the Haggada: ‘This year we are still slaves – next year we shall be free men.’”
In 1952, the Netanyahu family moved to its home at 4 Haportzim Street in Jerusalem, where he passed away early Monday morning.
Thanks to the Jerusalem Post US, Reuters and Lahav Harkov for this report.